Chronological History

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The Student Volunteerism Task Force was created in 1988 by Hank Walter to pave the way for a volunteer center on campus. On the task force was the head of the United Way of Champaign County and other community agency representatives. This center would serve as the hub to promote volunteerism and student service engagement. In August 1989, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Stan Levy, and the United Way of Champaign County established the Office of Volunteer Programs (OVP) with Stacey Durley as OVP’s first Green Dean. Stacey lived on campus in FAR her first year. The Green Dean traveled with Alternative Seasonal Breaks and twenty-one students to NYC to explore homelessness: the OVP’s first service trip. The OVP represented the University of Illinois at the 1989 Leadership in Volunteerism Experience (L.I.V.E.) conference, under the sponsorship of the Illinois Bell, the Governor’s Office of Voluntary Action, and the Allerton Conference Center in Monticello. Twenty-four schools in Illinois were invited to attend under Governor James R. Thompson. The OVP shared its volunteer program design, training program, clearinghouse methods, and plans to get volunteerism into classrooms as a part of the university social service curricula. The creation of the OVP led to a ten percent increase in student volunteerism on campus in its first year.

Laura Kurre, the second Green Dean, worked out of Room 295 in the Illini Union, which is now the Illinois Leadership Center. OVP starts its first newsletter, the Volunteer Voice. The OVP collaborates with Department of Urban and Regional Planning on the first East St. Louis service weekend trip for students. The OVP hosted the first volunteer recognition reception and led "Looking Beyond the Campus: Community Issues in Champaign-Urbana" with the Illini Union Board’s Food for Thought Committee. "A Generation in Motion” Making a Difference in the 90’s" and "Aging America: It's Everyone's Future" were two influential programs that used student leaders, conference directors, university departments (such as La Casa Cultural Latina), and the University YMCA to educate student volunteers on global needs. Early in our existence, we were educating students about direct service opportunities, the limitations of one-time volunteering, the need to explore social issues to better respond to community needs, and how to navigate the logistics of service project design.

OVP starts its first advertising campaign through fliers, brochures, and the Volunteer Voice newsletter to promote student volunteerism and commitment to community service project fulfillment. The OVP program associate facilitated the first Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Illinois and the Into the Streets program. OVP works with others at the University of Illinois on the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) National Conference. SEAC raised awareness about environmental racism and the disproportional environmental hazards faced by low income, underrepresented communities. By the end of its third year, the OVP amassed 3,027 volunteers and 13,050 hours of service.


Photo of 1991 Governor's Home Town Award for Youth Achievement

Lisa Mansueto Foley is the OVP’s program manager. OVP and Greek Affairs begin Adopt-A-School. This program was esteemed in the Top 21 of programs nationwide. The OVP Program Manager begins advising the Volunteer Illini Projects, Inc., registered student organization.

Through space allocated by the Illini Union Board, the OVP staff expands and gets official recognition as a location that students, student groups, and other university members can visit to explore volunteerism. The Illini Volunteer Board, consisting of a few student service organizations at Illinois, successfully landed the proposal to get the OVP its space. Thank you, VIP, Inc., Rotaract, Circle K, and APO. The OVP develops the Panhellenic Philanthropy Council to provide service education to members of Greek Life to enhance their understanding of social issues. The OVP develops a full week of hunger and homelessness programs for students. The OVP organizes the Sleepout for the Homeless where 30 students slept on Main Quad to raise awareness about national homelessness. Students participated in a fundraiser held in partnership with University Housing that raised over $4,000 for international hunger and homelessness, and 12 student service organizations implemented other hunger and homelessness programs for over 200 university students. Lisa contributes a lot of time to the development of the Campus Outreach Opportunity League (C.O.O.L), a national movement and conference to engage students in community service and civic engagement. Lisa’s tenure ends with 5,105 volunteers and 23,085 service hours completed.


957 volunteers continue raising the numbers with 13,927 hours of service and no OVP staff leader on site.


Tom Shields become OVP’s program coordinator and creates the first office website. OVP begins managing the America Reads program at Illinois. Volunteers increase to 1,470 as OVP gains its new direction with 7,136 hours.


OVP hosts its first ever Non-Profit Career Fair as service hours begin to soar again with 1,194 volunteers and 12,634 hours. Undergraduate staff expands and OVP hires a graduate assistant.


Photo of 1999 Peace Corps Legacy of Service Award

1,258 volunteers complete 14,807 hours, with Marwin Spiller filling in as interim OVP Director. OVP accepts an award from the Peace Corps on behalf of the university that marks 1,600+ students who have participated in the Corps as global peace ambassadors since 1961.


Image of print News-Gazette article and photo of Steve Baker who developed the website.

With the return of Tom Shields as the Director of the OVP becomes highly active in Illinois Campus Compact in support of faculty service-learning objectives. We placed students in community organizations and research models using effective pedagogy for community engagement work. This academic year saw the second highest record number of volunteers during the first decade of OVP’s founding. OVP student staff, Steve Baker, develops the CUVOLUNTEER.ORG platform that served university and Champaign-Urbana community members in finding volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, schools, and small businesses. 1,693 volunteers knock service out of the park with 20,004 hours of service. Yes, OVP gets two full rooms as its office (Room 294 & 295). Tom Shields reports, "An office space continues to be a major contribution to the success of OVP operations."


Photo of 2001 Champaign Park District Community of Service Award

With the online presence of CUVOLUNTEER.ORG and its expansion over a year, the OVP sets an annual record for campus volunteerism in its first decade with 2,050 volunteers and 24,927 hours. OVP is recognized two years in a row by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and the Illinois Association of Park Districts for community service. The student group, Campaign for Public Service, attempted to engage university administrators in conversation about more support and resources for the OVP.


Kathy Guthrie directs the OVP. Her graduate student staff spend the Fall 2002 semester benchmarking student volunteer, leadership, and service programs at other Illinois colleges and universities. Staff contact over 100 community agencies to build new partnerships with nonprofits. OVP presents at the National Community Service and Service-Learning Director Conference in Summer 2003 with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. OVP starts fundraising partnership with local organization, PACE, Inc. OVP focuses on community development to increase the number of episodic and long-term service opportunities for students and to ensure their service was helpful and not harmful to the Champaign-Urbana community. The OVP Holiday Toy Drive begins in 2003.


Amy Sponsler becomes the program manager for OVP. OVP starts working with the Legacy Scholarship Program in 2006; Scholars complete 50 hours of service each year with local and statewide community organizations as a part of a student-initiated fee that supports scholarships for Illinois students with financial need. Cans Across the Quad brainstorming begins. OVP hosted its first seminar series during Spring 2007, featuring programs on "Race, Class, and Community Service," and "Persuasion and Social Change." 92 volunteers complete 4,600 hours.


Photo of large group of Service First student volunteers on stairs in front of Foellinger Auditorium.

Vaneitta Goines, OVP program manager, worked with student staff to implement Cans Across the Quad, a campus food drive to support the Eastern Illinois Foodbanks fight against hunger. OVP runs service projects for Service First new student orientation program. OVP’s intern starts the Service Ambassador Program to increase student engagement in service across campus and in surrounding communities. OVP educates students on the differences between volunteering, service learning, civic engagement, and philanthropy to help them comprehend the independent value of each and to explore all the ways they can be involved. OVP starts the Thanksgiving Basket Drive campaign and MLK Jr. Commemorative Day of Service. 2,816 volunteers and 4,020 hours.


Photo of 2016-2017 Inspiring Service Diamond Award

Program Advisor, John Race, develops OVP’s iENGAGE, a service trip program that immersed the international student community in volunteerism across the Midwest. They secure donor funds to support travel and engagement activities. OVP continues Cans Across the Quad and donates 4,100 cans of food to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. OVP starts a service-themed book collection for students. In Spring 2017, the United Nations Global Goals Committee recognized the University of Illinois for OVP’s efforts to mobilize the Camp Kesem, Alpha Phi Omega, and Habitat for Humanity UIUC, CS@Illinois, Student Alumni Ambassadors, Illini Fighting Hunger, Colleges Against Cancer and Illini Emergency Medical Services registered student organizations; students completed a combined service hour total over 105, 000 hours. We still hold the honor plaque at the OVP. 4,981 volunteers and 18,968 hours.


The OVP is operated solely by students, no professional staff. Student staff run the service trips, MLK Day of Service, Legacy Scholars Program, the annual Volunteer Fair and Volunteer Recognition Ceremony. Students challenged the Director of the Illini Union to restore the full-time staff position in the office. 961 volunteers and 18,025 hours.

2019–Summer 2021

April Garrison arrives at the OVP as the Senior Program Coordinator. OVP is acquired by Student Success and Engagement and develops a new website under Student Engagement. OVP creates the We are Illini Volunteers (WAIV) Preparedness Course and starts MLK Jr. the Day of Reflection to support the service education of Illinois students. OVP forms the Service Leaders at Illinois Council-Engaged (SLICE) to enhance collaboration among student organizations, to center signature service events on campus, to professionalize service organizations, and to link service RSOs to their history and alumni. retires. OVP donates service-theme library to the Urbana Free Library and the Ikenberry Commons Residence Hall Library. The Thanksgiving Meal Drive continues during COVID –19 and raised $6, 100 for Stone Creek Church’s Big Give Food Distribution Program. The OVP changes mission and practice to prioritize, service education, leadership, student knowledge of social and global issues, student-alumni relationships in public service, and active participation in democratic engagement over the logging of service hours. We look on to assisting students with the exploration of civic life through intentional activities that expose them to the communities of which they live and consume resources. 649 volunteers and 5,610 hours.